John here. We went on a camping trip this summer and since I don’t do simple (yes, even when I’m outdoors), I decided duck was the way to go. It’s woodsy, a little bit gamey, and it has a deep flavor to it. Duck also has that thick bit of fat over the breast and it’s no secret I love me some fat on some meat. I made a corn-eggplant ragout with a watermelon kiwi vinaigrette to go along with the duck and some Yukon gold potatoes cooked with garlic scapes and some old pork rib stock I had in the fridge.
To prepare the glaze:
- 1 pint of cherries
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 mango, diced
- 4 cups of water
- ½ lemon
- Dash of kosher salt and pepper
Simmer all ingredients for about 30 minutes and then strain. Reduce by half and thicken with cornstarch and water (slurry).
To prepare the duck:
I glazed the breasts before I grilled it, but first I scored it. This is important! I scored the fat because if you don’t, the heat will never get to the top of the breast.
Then I grilled the duck over an open flame of hot coals. Grilled and kept basting. You don’t wanna do real hot, real fast or else that fat will burn. Instead, you want to do it over a medium to low heat and keep rotating. Rotate, rotate, rotate. Baste, flip, baste, flip.
To prepare the corn-eggplant ragout:
- 3 ears of corn, cut off the cob
- 1 small eggplant, grilled and diced
- 1 small cucumber , grilled and diced
- 2 small green tomatoes, grilled and diced
Combine and set aside while you make the vinaigrette below.
To prepare the vinaigrette:
- 2 cups of watermelon
- 1 kiwi
- 1 cup of olive oil
- 1/8 cup rice wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons of honey
- 3 tablespoons of tomato paste
- Salt and pepper to taste
Puree all ingredients and strain. Pour over corn-eggplant ragout and serve at room temperature.
To prepare the potatoes:
- 6 Yukon Gold new potatoes
- 6 garlic scapes, thinly sliced
- 1 red pepper, minced
- ½ red onion, minced
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 4 cups reserved pork rib stock
- Salt and pepper to taste
Cut potatoes in half and toss with half of the oil and salt and pepper. Grill on one side until lightly browned. Heat cast iron skillet with the other half of the olive oil while waiting. Add the garlic scapes, red pepper, and onion to the skillet along with potatoes. Sautee, add stock and boil. When potatoes are fully cooked, remove and keep warm. Reduce liquid by ½ to ¾ to intensify flavor. Re-toss potatoes in liquid and serve.
Note: with the cast iron, I like to throw it in the oven or on the grill first because you want to heat it up. It’s the same thing as a sauté pan. You need to heat it up first, add a little bit of oil, and then you can add your food.